Nitro PDF Professional 6 review

3 Jul 2009

All the core benefits of office-based PDF handling at a fraction of the price of Acrobat Standard

Price when reviewed: 
62(£61), additionalmore
5

Adobe's PDF (Portable Document Format) is essential in so many workflows - workgroup collaboration, secure exchange, form filling and document archiving - that just about every office worker will end up using it at some point.

If all you need to do is to view and print PDFs that isn't a problem, as you can simply use the free Adobe Reader app. If you need to do more with your PDFs, and in particular create your own, then Adobe expects you to pay handsomely for its Acrobat Standard application.

Adobe isn't the only game in town. The PDF format is an open specification and there are plenty of basic third-party authoring options that let you produce basic PDFs for free such as CutePDF, PrimoPDF and Microsoft's Save as PDF add-in for Office 2007. Nitro PDF Professional 6 is different: it's designed to provide the same all-round power as Acrobat Standard and to compete with it head-to-head.

Nitro PDF Professional's main aim is to duplicate Acrobat Standard, but thankfully that isn't the case when it comes to the interface. Where the Adobe program scatters its functionality through a confusing mix of dropdowns and toolbars, the Nitro PDF Pro interface is based on an Office 2007-style Ribbon. With separate tabs for each of the main tasks - review, forms, view and so on - it's a model of clarity. Even better, this interface ties in so seamlessly with the main Office 2007 apps there's effectively no learning curve. You can start making the most of your PDFs immediately.

So what does Nitro PDF Professional let you do? First, you need to be able to create your PDF, and Nitro PDF Professional 6 sees a complete overhaul of its conversion engine. This now provides greater control over parameters such as font embedding, image compression and security. You can also now save files that are compliant with the PDF/A-1b archiving specification and store all conversion settings for later re-use. Most importantly, Nitro PDF Professional 6's engine produces smaller files that are faster to open and which, on average, are created in less than half the time than with the previous version.

To create your PDFs, you can convert a wide range of file formats directly from the main Nitro PDF application, or you can select the Nitro PDF printer driver and output to PDF from any application. Crucially for its target market, Nitro PDF Professional also provides built-in macro-based support for the main Microsoft Office 2007 apps: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This takes the form of a Nitro PDF ribbon tab, which provides additional functionality including support for links, bookmarks and security, as well as the option to create your PDF and email it directly.

Once created PDFs can be enhanced and embellished by assembling multiple files, cropping pages, editing text, adding headers and footers, Bates numbering, links and more. You can create PDF-based fillable forms complete with advanced support for field controls and JavaScript actions.

Nitro PDF Professional also provides plenty of power for working with PDFs created by others. In particular, you can review and collaborate on documents by adding text edits, sticky notes, call-outs, and basic drawings. Such comments can be imported, exported and summarised and multiline annotations are displayed in full in the Comments pane.

Meanwhile, PDFs can be signed off using digital certificates, while other advanced security options allow you to specify whether documents can be printed and content copied. Nitro PDF Professional 6 has also seen a major overhaul of its output engine meaning that, in most cases, you can convert the fixed PDF to an editable DOC or RTF complete with embedded images, tables and formatting.

Details

Price ex VAT £54
Price inc VAT £62
Overall rating 5
Ease of Use rating 5
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 6
Software subcategory Utilities

Requirements

Processor requirement N/A

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no